Empowering Women to Power Walmart

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 5 November 2014

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It's fair to say that people do not think of Walmart as a leader when it comes to diversity for women. Being the world's largest employer with over 1.2 million employees in the United States alone, they are often a target of criticism for not doing enough to improve women's rights and to promote women to managerial and leadership roles. The fact is, Walmart indeed takes diversity and inclusion for women very seriously and has been working hard for the last 10 years to make a difference for women at Walmart.

So you can imagine my delight when Walmart recently asked us to help them produce an advocacy video and poster for their internal associates and headquarter employees to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to empower women to power Walmart and to provide facts and statistics that reflect their progress. It makes strategic sense because over half of their shoppers are women and they need to understand who they are and what their needs are. During our homework to produce the video and poster we learned some very significant facts. For instance:

  • Since 2003, female representation at Walmart in the U.S. has increased:

Walmart Field Representation

- Market Managers from 12% to 20%

- Store Managers from 18% to 27%

- Co-Managers from 26% to 39%

- Assistant Managers from 40% to 47%

Sam's Club Field Representation

- Market Managers from 13% to 27%

- Club Managers from 12% to 25%

- Co-Managers from 30% to 40%

- Assistant Managers from 36% to 38%

Officer Representation

- Officers from 11% to 23%

- Executive Vice Presidents from 10% to 17% 

- Senior Vice Presidents from 10% to 23%

- Vice Presidents from 12% to 23%


  • Internationally Walmart has made great strides as well:

- 7 of 10 countries increased women management representation

- Chile's Ekono format: Store Managers increased from 35% to 70% since 2010

- Canada: Store Managers increased from 17% in 2010 to 26% in 2013

- United Kingdom: Store Managers increased from 12% in 2010 to 17% in 2013 

- China: 46% of leadership positions, director or higher, are women

- Canada: first country to achieve 50% of women in management 

  • Walmart is becoming the best place to work for women and has been recognized for their efforts. Ten independent global and respected publications cite Walmart for making great strides for diversity and inclusion of women and give high praise and accolades for their leadership and as a great place for women to work.
  • Externally Walmart has gone to great lengths to improve the lives of women by sourcing merchandise from women owned companies and training women within their communities to improve their lives. 
  • There is a plan for sourcing $20 billion from women-owned businesses by 2016. 
  • They have launched a website with products created by women around the globe called Empowering Women Together. It began with 200 items from 19 suppliers in nine countries and has expanded to 350 items from 30 businesses in 12 countries. 
  • Walmart has trained 283,280 women globally to date and on track to achieve goal of training nearly one million women by 2016. 
  • Simply put there are more women leaders in Walmart stores than ever before. Over the last 10 years there has been a 310% increase in shift managers, a 108% increase in store managers and a 70% increase of market managers who are women.

As one of Walmart's primary agency partners for associate engagement, I knew Walmart was doing a lot for women but I had no idea about the scope and magnitude of their efforts and the success they have achieved over the last 10 years. What they have achieved is quite impressive. Take a look at the video we produced for them called, "Empowering Women to Power Walmart" that Walmart posted on YouTube.

What does this mean for companies? For me, it illustrates how a determined company can change their ways through laser sharp vision/culture and dedication to flawless long-term execution. Walmart didn't say that woman empowerment/diversity was impossible to achieve in the short term. Rather they took a long-term perspective, put an organization and process in place, and connected the dots for all of the contributing departments, companies and external partners to understand the vision and journey. They took the time to establish momentum toward a common shared goal to improve performance and empower women inside and outside the company. Walmart is proof that cultural transformation is indeed possible. It takes dedication and leadership and a clear understanding of what can be achieved. 

Many of you may say what I am about to say is sappy and gratuitous. I am being sincere. After doing our homework and seeing their accomplishments, I can honestly say that their Empowering Woman to Power Woman efforts around the world makes me feel proud to be associated with such a great and committed company. Congratulations Walmart, you are making a positive difference in the lives of woman around the globe! How many companies can say that?